Carbon fiber wheels reduce the unsprung mass of a vehicle, which in turn can lead to improved responsiveness and handling on the most demanding of performance cars. The late Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R and upcoming 2023 Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package are just a few examples of where you can find this cutting-edge technology. Even so, carbon fiber wheels have up to this point been deemed too fragile and too expensive to use for larger vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs, but that could change very soon.
Carbon Fiber Wheels: How The Future Gets Rolling?
Ash Denman, Engineering and Design Director for Carbon Revolution, recently spoke with The Drive on this matter, and it seems that this opinion on carbon fiber wheels isn’t agreeable. He sees carbon fiber wheels as a serious challenger to traditional alloy wheels because they boost the efficiency enough to make them essential for everything from electric vehicles to commercial trucks. For example, the less energy required to rotate a carbon fiber wheel for electric vehicles immediately translates to enhanced range and hastened recharging. In addition, carbon fiber’s weight advantage increases with wheels designed to optimize aerodynamics.
Since aerodynamic wheels tend to get heavier when crafted with metal, things start to see drawbacks, especially with large diameter wheels like the 24-inch ones that will be found on the Chevy Silverado EV. On aerodynamic wheels of that size, carbon fiber can cut the weight by up to 45 percent. Of course, that depends on how durable the customer wants it, but that’s still a considerable improvement.
All new products from Carbon Revolution undergo a lengthy process of design and testing each wheel. After taking the proposed design, they simulate its performance against fatigue and impacts, considering everything down to the type of resin used and the carbon weave direction in each layer.
After achieving sim approval, the wheels go onto real-world testing to ensure that they are more than up to the task. So all of Carbon Revolution’s wheels undergo an unseen life of testing abuse and more testing before rolling into a customer’s driveway. This energy-saving tech application is bound to affect a wide range of industries, from personal transportation to shipping and fleets. With the promise to reduce energy consumption, carbon fiber wheels are bound to make a small but vital dent in the global energy consumption of transportation in the future.